It is always hard to introduce a game under the match three genre and make it sound appealing to serious gamers, yet that is the task at hand. Pixel Defenders Puzzle is a puzzle game currently available on Apple’s app store as well as Google Play for Android devices.
The developer’s website describes the game as “a unique blend of puzzle and tactical RPG” – and that it is. Once again it seems a disservice to classify this game solely as a match three, because it is one of those games that has the power to redefine a genre.
The goal in Pixel Defenders is to defend VIP characters, which have no gameplay benefit to offer. In fact, not only do they take up valuable space, but they often move into the most ideal spot to place a block next, interfering with one’s plans.
On the other hand, the blocks being matched (in contiguous groups of three or more) instantly become defenders, RPG-like heroes and mercenaries to defend the VIP’s with. Each one gets only a single action, and then becomes a stone or other obstacle (which can also be matched to clear them off the game board). However, match three of these defenders and they “level up” – a level two defender offers a more powerful attack, and can perform two actions before biting the dust. Similarly, a level three character gets three actions, and so forth.
As the game continues and the board fills up, it gets more and more difficult to create level three and then level four characters, but they are definitely worth it. The typical level four attack can hit multiple enemies at once, and since they have four actions, the only concern is having enough energy to use all four attacks.
Matching blocks and obstacles will slowly build up energy. Eventually, small red bubbles at the bottom of the screen will fill up, indicating that actions can be taken. Each action uses up the energy from a single bubble.
There are several different classes of defenders, and each has its own set of distinct heroes that it can become as it gains levels. The best part is that all this is color-coded; once they become more familiar, it is easier to plan ahead for which units will be most useful. The only things out of the player’s control are which classes are available in each level (one or more), and which color block comes up next.
Occasionally, winning a puzzle grants loot items, which can be used during a puzzle to do various things. Most of them change the type of the next block, while some do other things, like provide a boost of energy to allow for additional actions.
Pixel Defenders is a great for a quick game during a coffee break, yet is also able to provide a more serious challenge. It offers replay value through multiple game modes and a star rating achievement system. Such a low price for a well-made and delightful game with tasty retro 8-bit graphics is hard to beat.